Tue, Aug 07, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Annette Lu slams PRC over Olympic torch relay plan

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) berated Beijing yesterday for denigrating Taiwan's sovereignty with its Olympic torch relay plan, saying it would make more sense for the torch to come in and out of Taiwan via a third country.

Lu made the remarks during a meeting with foreign correspondents after the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games executive vice-president Jiang Xiaoyu (蔣效愚) said earlier that day that Beijing hoped Taiwan would return to a consensus reached earlier this year to facilitate the torch's travel through Taiwan.

political maneuver

Describing China's scheme as a political maneuver, the vice president said it violated the spirit of the Olympics.

She said the Taiwanese government would like to see the torch come in from South Korea and then proceed to Vietnam before entering Hong Kong and Macau.

Lu said that Beijing's proposal was an overt scheme aimed at claiming sovereignty over Taiwan.

Lu made the remarks during an informal meeting with foreign correspondents at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Government Information Office Spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) said that maintaining fairness and dignity was key to the whole torch issue and that it would be "the political equivalent of doping" for China to attempt to put political pressure on Taiwan in the sporting arena.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was asked in an interview whether or not he would go to the 2008 Olympics if elected.

"I haven't thought about it," Ma said.

referendum

Lu also defended the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) plan to hold a referendum on joining the UN using the name "Taiwan," which she said reflected the country's "soft power."

Lu said she believed many countries would not agree with or support China's oppression of Taiwan, adding that the nation was not trying to provoke China and that the vote would not lead to military conflict.

The DPP plans to hold the referendum alongside presidential elections next March.

"It is the basic right of Taiwanese to join the United Nations ... It is definitely not our intention to provoke China," Lu said. "All democratic countries have no reason to oppose it."

Repeated attempts by Taiwan to join the UN in the past decade have failed, but the DPP hopes the referendum will remind voters that the nation's diplomatic isolation is a result of bullying by Beijing and that the opposition favors closer economic ties with China.

"Taiwan's democratically elected leaders have been internationally isolated by China for a long time. We think enough is enough," Lu said.

Lu dismissed speculation that the referendum, if passed, would provoke military conflict between Taiwan and China.

Additional reporting by Angelica Oung

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